When last we heard from Mark Batterson, he was chasing a lion down a pit on a snowy day. Now he’s chasing a wild goose. Evidently, there’s a lot of chasing going on in Mark’s neck of the hood.
Most of us think a wild goose chase is, as Mark puts it, “a purposeless endeavor without a defined destination.” Mark thinks otherwise. He notes that one of the Celtic Christian images of the Holy Spirit was An Geadh Glas, “the Wild Goose.” Chasing that Wild Goose is anything but a purposeless endeavor, even though we don’t know the defined destination at the outset of the chase.
Chasing the Wild Goose pulls you out of “inverted Christianity.” “Instead of following the Spirit,” Mark writes, “we invite the Spirit to follow us. Instead of serving God’s purposes, we want Him to serve our purposes.” Such a form of Christianity is sinful—displacing God from the center and putting our selves there instead—but it is also deadly boring. Mark deploys the image of a caged animal at the zoo to describe the life of inverted Christianity. The natural beauty, freedom, and power of biblical Christianity gets locked away behind safe, comfortable, and predictable bars. If we want to chase the Goose, we have to get out of our cages.
In Wild Goose Chase, Mark identifies six cages inverted Christians get locked inside: responsibility, routine, assumptions, guilt, failure, and fear. He devotes one chapter to each of the cages and uses one character from the Bible to illustrate spiritual uncaged living. Nehemiah shows us how to live a “responsibly irresponsible life,” one that is infused with God’s passion. Moses shows us how to break out of our spiritual routines. Abraham shows us how to overcome the antisupernatural assumptions that place limits on what God can do in our lives. Peter shows us how to let God’s grace overcome our guilt and lead to a life of gratitude. Paul shows us how apparent failures are actually providential opportunities to spread the gospel. And Jonathan shows us to live on offense, rather than defense. Mark also peppers each chapter with stories from lives of contemporary people who are chasing the Goose.
One of Mark’s greatest virtues as a writer is a Rick Warren-like ability to take a simple concept and give it practical legs. I have to confess that the genre of In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day and Wild Goose Chase is not a genre I read a lot in anymore because it has tendencies toward the formulaic and simplistic. Mark’s books are neither of those things. Don’t be fooled by his short paragraphs, self-deprecatory humor, or obsession with medial front cortex illustrations. This book, and its predecessor, challenged me a deep, personal level. And they will do the same thing for you.
I highly recommend this book. I gave it to my associate. My family members will be reading it. And I’ll be promoting it at my church. If you’re tired of dull, passionless, routinized Christianity, read this book! And chase the Goose!